NICOSIA (AP) – A committee uncovering the fate of hundreds of missing Greek and Turkish Cypriots said it’s examining whether past DNA tests on unearthed remains were incorrect, resulting in individuals being misidentified.
The UN-led Committee on Missing Persons said the review was prompted after a DNA analysis carried out on remains exhumed in 2015 showed that they belonged to a person whose family had instead received another set of misidentified remains in 2009.
The CMP said the erroneous test was carried out by the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics (CING), while the analysis that discovered the mistake was conducted by the US-based laboratory Bode Cellmark Forensics.
DNA tests conducted by the CING between 2007-2012 are now being reviewed, according to an official who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because he’s not authorized to discuss the case’s details.
CMP figures show that 386 identifications took place from 2007 to 2012, but it’s unclear how many sets of remains may have to be retested.
The CMP said it expressed sympathy to the family that received the wrong set of remains and were making arrangements to return the correctly identified set.
“The CMP would like to reassure all families of missing persons that it is committed to ensuring that the highest scientific standards are upheld at every stage of its operations,” the committee said.
Some 500 Turkish Cypriots and 1,500 Greek Cypriots disappeared during armed clashes in the 1960s and during a 1974 Turkish invasion triggered by a coup aiming to unite Cyprus with Greece. The eastern Mediterranean island has since been divided into a breakaway Turkish-speaking north and an internationally recognized Greek-speaking south.
According to the CMP, the remains of 1,201 missing persons have been exhumed, and the remains of 558 Greek Cypriots and 184 Turkish Cypriots have been identified and returned to their families.